Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017: Committee Stage

Photo of Michael D'ArcyMichael D'Arcy (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I move amendment No. 13:

In page 4, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

"Amendment of Schedule 2 to Central Bank Act 1942

3. The Central Bank Act 1942 is amended in Part 1 of Schedule 2 by the insertion of the following:


47 No. ___ of 2019 Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 Sections 8, 9, 11 and 14
".This group of amendments covers the roles of the Central Bank and of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, FSPO. With amendment No. 13, I propose to insert a new section 3 that will provide that certain sections of the Bill are designated enactments under the Central Bank Act 1942. The particular sections of the Bill that the Central Bank will have a role in are section 8 - form of contract of insurance and information to be provided by insurer; section 9 - right to withdraw from contract of insurance by notice: cooling-off period; section 11 - cancellation of contract of insurance; and section 14 - claims handling: duties of consumer and insurer. The purpose of this new section is to ensure that the Central Bank can enforce upon insurers their obligations under the Bill.

With amendment No. 14, I propose to insert a new section 4 which will have the effect of clarifying and preserving the role of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in the operation of the Act. This is to be achieved by making an amendment to section 60 of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act which will refer to the consumer insurance contracts Act 2019; allow the ombudsman to make decisions by referring to this Act; and link section 22 of the 2019 Act - effect of failure to comply with the Act - to the power of the ombudsman to direct compensation. The ombudsman’s powers to direct compensation will not exceed the amount that the ombudsman has jurisdiction to pay out under this Act. This amendment is very important as it confirms the fact that the FSPO should be the first port of call for the resolution of complaints and that this Bill will not undermine this core principle. It is important that the Bill should preserve this parallel jurisdiction and should not inadvertently reserve any new rights granted to consumers to the sole jurisdiction of the courts or diminish the effectiveness of the FSPO as a forum for the resolution of complaints.

Amendment No. 15 is a technical drafting amendment which does not change the underlying substance of the Bill. Amendment No. 16 provides that section 3(2) be deleted. Section 3(2) provides that the Central Bank can issue a code of practice concerning the form of a consumer insurance contract as set out in this Act. However, this provision is superfluous as section 48 of the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 gives the Central Bank the power to make regulations for the proper and effective regulation of regulated financial services providers. Deleting section 3(2) will also involve a consequential amendment to the title of the section to remove the reference to “Codes of Practice”.